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Vintage Namiki
Lot 233
DUNHILL-NAMIKI: Rare and Exceptional Double Dragon Maki-e Fountain Pen, Signed by Shogo, Emperor Size, A-Grade, early 1930s
4 December 2017, 10:00 PST
Los Angeles

Sold for US$225,000 inc. premium

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DUNHILL-NAMIKI: Rare and Exceptional Double Dragon Maki-e Fountain Pen, Signed by Shogo, Emperor Size, A-Grade, early 1930s

Perhaps the single most acclaimed Emperor Namiki ever made, this rare and outstanding A-grade masterwork by Shogo may indeed be the finest maki-e pen ever offered at auction. Eyedropper-filler, dome-top with flat endpiece, measuring 163mm, early 1930s. 18K gold Dunhill-Namiki heart-vent nib, No. 50 size (not marked as such), engraved "FABRIQUE AU JAPON". Elaborately decorated in a variety of techniques including togidashi, takamakie, shishiai-togidashimaki-e, maki-bokashi and fine aogai highlights on highly-polished kinji ground, fully embellished with maki-e work extending to the feed, depicting a dragon on the cap and another on the barrel, masterfully designed and executed with great subtlety and skill. Signed by Namiki's greatest artist, Shogo Iijima (Shogo was born 1894, studied under Shorin Ueda in 1908, and began working for Namiki as a subcontractor in 1926. He joined the Namiki Co. in 1928 and became the leading member of Namiki's elite Kokkokai group assembled by the legendary Gonroku Matsuda in 1931).

In Namiki: The Art of Lacquer Pens, Julia Hutt and Stephen Overbury state that A-grade Emperors were the best and most expensive pens in Dunhill-Namiki's inventory: "The most expensive pen would be a giant men's model No. 50 pen... Most of the best quality Dunhill-Namiki pens were custom-ordered and as such were about double the cost." Christophe Larquemin remarks in The Four Seasons of Namiki that "the most sought-after [Namiki] is also the largest, the 50. It is the most famous Namiki, dubbed Emperor, Jumbo, or King-Size by some collectors." Tomihiro Murakami states in Dunhill-Namiki and Lacquer Pens that vintage Emperor Dunhill-Namikis are of the greatest scarcity, with production limited to a period of a few years from 1932: "It is almost impossible to find this kind of pen due to the very small quantity that was made." According to Jean-François Canton's recent book on Namiki pens, only about 15 vintage "balance" or "dome-top" Emperors are known to exist.

-Murakami, Tomihiro. Dunhill-Namiki and Lacquer Pens. (Sakura City: 2000), pp. 60 & 67.
-Hutt, Julia & Stephen Overbury, Namiki: The Art of Lacquer Pens. Toronto: 2000, pp. 53 & 152.
-Larquemin, Christophe. The Four Seasons of Namiki. (Paris: 2009), pp. 188 & 198.
-Canton, Jean-François. Namiki: The Poignant Beauty of Fragile Things. (Aurillac, France: 2013), p. 74 ("Few Namiki pens were made in the '50' size. Experts claim that their number does not exceed forty, including twenty-five 'flat-top' and fifteen 'dome-top' pens.").
Provenance: Property of a Gentleman.

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